Archive for December, 2014

Thoughtform Theory and Its Innate Limitations

Posted in Occultism with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2014 by Sypheara

I didn’t expect to making this particular post, but something has been nagging at me to discuss for awhile, and I think it bears bringing up. However, before I launch into it, I would first like to say I hope everyone had a good Winter Solstice. My on solstice was a personal and introspective one, and I got a lot of of it. Hope others did also. With that said, I’d like to move into the next topic.

This topic is the occult belief, and its modern interpretation, surrounding thought forms and through them, eggregores. For those who are not familiar with these terms, I will give a brief and very shallow overview of them below.

The idea of thoughtform originates from Tibet, from Buddhist belief. A thoughtform or ‘Tulpas’ as they are known are described as a being, object or some other such form that is created through the application of both mental and spiritual willpower.

Alexandra David-Néel, a Belgian-French explorer and buddist was one of the first to record observations of these practices in the early 20th century. She wrote about how any human, divine, or demonic being may be possessed of the ability to create thoughtforms or Tulpas as described by Buddhist practice.

These creations usually begin existing solely in the mind of the participant, but may also begin to interact with the physical world around them and to start becoming physically manifest. Alexandras writings go on to explain and expand on this, not just detailing how these creations begin to exert influence on the material world outside of the mind of its creator, but also demonstrate external agency:

“Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker’s control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother’s womb.”

This concept was taken onboard in Western Occultism, and eventually through logical expansion and extension of the idea, the concept of the Egregore was born within the groups such as the Golden Dawn. This concept was the logical extension of the thoughtform from an individual to a group. The most well known and documented group thoughtform / egregore is arguably GOTOS, created by the Fraternitas Saturni, as their group thoughtfrom. In the words of Stephen E. Flowers, this particular egregore was created for a particular purpose:

‘Through the experience of the GOTOS the Saturnian Brother or Sister is able to feel directly the qualities of personality that he or she is expected to develop as an initiate of the FS: compassionless love, willpower, resolution, severity (with him- or herself and others). These are developed in order to create the conditions for higher spiritual development through mastery of oneself and the environment. In other words, these are the characteristics of the Saturnian magician.’

In the above example, the egregore was created for a distinct purpose: to embody the ideals of the lodge. Egregores can be created for many reasons, Some even say that just like normal thoughtforms, they can even be created unconsciously and embody the group collective mind without their knowledge. Again, these can split off, appearing to eventually begin to exhibit independence and a life of their own.


GOTOS Egregore of the Fraternitas Saturni, Artist Unknown

Whilst I believe that the concept of both Thoughtforms and Egregores is both useful, interesting, and even validated based on my own personal experience with personal thoughtforms, it is possible for one to take the above concept too far to the point that one begins to encapsulate and explain away a whole category and hierarchy of spirits as being thoughtforms rather than having a non human origin.

This is a particularly problematic when it’s taken to it’s absolute extreme. This is when materialist occultists (ie those believing all magick and the supernatural has a psychological origin) begin to explain all spirits, including the Gods, as memes that exist within a collective consciousness, rather than being external in both existence and action, to explain the effects these types of beings can cause, even the apparent external and independent actions that highly developed egregores and thoughtforms can exhibit.

By explaining the Gods and Spirits away in a purely psychological manner, one robs them of both their agency and identity – and lowers them to the same level as the human organism and soul. It also conveniently removes any responsibility one has to the world and spirits around them, due to believing they are entirely created by the human mind.

This is the position I have been seeing some in the Occult/Pagan community take recently when in discussion with them, and I find it alarming on multiple fronts.

Firstly, when we take a look at the Western Esoteric Tradition as a whole, especially the Grimoires, we see a very clear picture painted – these spirits are other, external to us, with their own values, qualities, and natures that are totally independent of any human being. This is echoed throughout, from the heavily Christianised forms, through to greek/roman practice, to Babylonia and Sumerian and all the way back to our earliest shamanistic practices.There is no concept of the thought form entity as being internal or even existent – spirits are stressed as being able to interact with the physical world, and have their own agency, and their relation to humans are as external entities. As such, all knowledge related to Spirits and the Gods that has survived in our own traditions heavily implore us to treat these beings with respect and caution, with folktales and occult teachings centred around humanities place within the spiritual hierarchy and how that affects the way in which we can work with the different classes of spirits.

Secondly, such a view also contradicts the traditional buddhist teachings on thoughtforms itelf. By trying to explain around or away the religious and spiritual approaches and teachings of buddhist teaching and the luggage that comes with it via psychobabble and pseudoscience I find distasteful, When it exists within its context thoughtforms as an addition to a complete worldview makes sense: when it it is taken out of context and every spirit is attempted to be shoehorned into being a thoughtform, problems arise. Buddhism contains within it its own hierarchy of spirits, and a distinction is made between these beings and thoughtforms, a fact which is usually conveniently discarded when thoughtforms are taken on its own as an occult idea.

Thirdly, from personal experience, this leads to a very magickally solipsistic world view, where the individual becomes so enamoured by their ‘internal’ world ie ego building they become trapped in their own self imposed hall of mirrors, unable to see how magick can be used to root them into the world around them and give them tangible means by which to influence and move through it. Thoughtforms and Egregores are an interesting phenomena and can be used to build secondary familiars – guides and helpers that can be perfect in helping with this, as long as we realise their place in the spiritual hierarchy.

But by  believing everything is a thoughtform, and therefore that all spirits and the Gods created solely by the human race are egregores, it is easy to incorrectly conclude that through simply being human we have all the keys to the proverbial castle – that we just need to ‘think it’ and that therefore it will be as it all exists within us or some other such nebulous statement. After all in such a belief system we OWN the Gods and Spirits, and can therefore do as we please. They are subject to our will and we can therefore model them into anything we damn well please. This is of course manifestly ridiculous – they defy such pidgeon holing, their voices speak through and reveal the cracks, telling us that they, the Gods and Spirit,s come from ancient external archetypes, older than the human race, carried in our physical genes, mental maps down to our own spiritual makeup. Thus they reveal the truth themselves in time: We are made up of them, rather than the other way around. In later works, we do come across a concept of the Collective Subconscious in works by famed psychiatrist Carl Jung, I believe this is often both misinterpreted to ascribe the Gods as Archetypes and thus ‘unreal’. Even if we were to believe that the Gods are identical to Archetypes, a claim itself which would require substantial proof, that would not suggest they are ‘unreal’ at all, but in fact just by circular logic prove that they are physical agents with the power to physically effect the world around us. Neither would it suggest that we created them as Egregores – more that they have always been, and we rely on them for some of our most fundamental make up at the spiritual/mental/physical level as human beings.

Collective Unconcsious

Collective Unconcious by Solongo Monkhooroi

It is also interesting to note that many that believe the Gods are all egregores somehow also believe that simply willing with these mental constructs in mind has the power to affect physical change without any way of explaining how a construct that lives entirely in the mind can affect physical change. This to me is quite telling. It is plain truth to state that will without means to exercise it is useless – and on top of this it is self evident from looking at wider society that simply being human confers no access to extraordinary occult power, ability, or even connection . All these have to be worked for, the correct, physical lines of access opened, through constant work, effort and striving.

As such, I believe that it is a mistake to assume all of the Spirits and Gods are explainable as thoughtforms. By describing the Gods and Spirits away by stating they exist solely within the human mind, one robs them of both their agency and identity – and lowers them to the same level as the human organism and soul. It also conveniently removes any responsibility one has to the world and spirits around them, due to believing they products of ourselves.

This can be dangerous, as it is then much easier to treat occultism and magickal practice as nothing more than some kind of imaginative play, that a child would engage in, without tangibly real risks and consequences. Gods and Spirits, when approached, have their own reasons, usually individual, for wanting and needing to interact with human beings. With the mindset that they are only mind constructs, we soon lose the ability to work with them in a meaningful and tangible way. Many will be offended, and may even turn against the practitioner in question in order to bestow upon them a harsh but needed lesson.

This is, ironically enough, even more dangerous when we consider thoughtforms and egregores as a class of spirit although being produced by a host being, capable of becoming an independent entity.. As soon as we begin to believe they are only psychological in nature, it is easy for people to wonder why once the budding process is complete, the construct is no longer under their complete control, If the thoughtform is causing issues and needing to be removed /.dismantled, it is highly like someone approaching it from the perspective of it all being psychological will be entirely unable to deal with the problem at large. It will become apparent very quickly that simply ‘willing’ the construct away is useless – has taken on its own external existence and effective means of exorcism will need to be applied to ensure it is properly dealt with.

By attempting to explain everything away in psychological terms, we create a disconnect going forward from ourselves and the world around us placing an artificial barrier between us leading to ineffective practice at best, and dangerous practice at worst. I just hope that others become aware of this, and think before trying to fit round pegs into square holes.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to thoughts and comments! It was a difficult one to attempt to explain.